The lesson for those with honor

If you’re honest and sorry and accept blame for what you’ve done, you will do the honorable thing and resign.

If you refuse to admit you’ve been wrong, blame your enemies, and behave in an amoral way, you get to keep your job and may even get elected to prominent positions.

This is the contradictory lesson our leaders are sending us.

franken

Al Franken resigns for inappropriate touching, almost all of which was in public with witnesses while pictures are being taken, while on the GOP side, people who have committed the kind of creepy crimes that would normally place one on sexual offenders’ lists are promoted by the party.

I’m getting tired of playing by the rules and doing the right thing while political opponents are playing by different rules.

They’re like the bullies laughing at us do-gooders while they destroy us behind the scenes. You can’t win the game if they’re playing hardball while we’re playing softball. I’m just tired of having the sand kicked in our face and replying by turning the other cheek. All it does is make them kick us harder next time.

While I think Franken should have been censured and perhaps removed of a few important committee assignments, I can also understand his dilemma:  Had he stayed on, there would have been an investigation and the Republicans would have milked this for everything they could in order to destroy him and the Democrats (while completely ignoring their own more serious transgressions because, of course, they are all flaming hypocrites).

So perhaps leaving and setting an example was the best thing he could do, because, if nothing else, it allows the Democrats to be the party of morals and “family values” for the 2018 election.

Kathy Griffin, Hypocrites, and the First Amendment

Comedian Kathy Griffin recently posted a picture of herself holding a severed bloody Trump head.

In comparison to all the crap conservatives posted about Obama — including actual death threats — it was mild, but still provocative. screen_shot_2017-05-30_at_1.47.48_pm_-_h_2017

Of course, that was the point, wasn’t it? Provocative? Isn’t that what comedians sometimes are like?

Immediately, GOP members without any sense of irony screamed about how inappropriate it was. “But the children may see it!” they yelled. Griffin lost some jobs, was criticized all over the internet, and many said she should be arrested for this.

Because, you know, if there’s one thing conservatives love, it’s America. They just hate what it stands for — you know, like that damned First Amendment, which is meaningless if it only protects speech we all agree with.

Then — and here is where you roll your eyes — GOP members who complained that the photo would harm children are now running that photo in campaign ads on prime time TV.

Why, it’s almost as if they really don’t care about the children at all and are merely blatant hypocrites!

It’s still ridiculous

There are plenty of legitimate things to criticize Trump for, absolutely. More than enough.

How he likes his steaks and how his staff may sit on a sofa are not among them.tsi-may-cover

Seriously, many liberals are bringing up the fact that Trump likes his steaks well done with ketchup as a way to attack him. They then point out how Kellyanne Conway sits on a sofa in the Oval Office with her legs up as if that’s an issue.

Admittedly, the criticisms are done in a humorous way to make fun of the administration, but why are they even issues in the first place?

I am just against hypocrisy, and I clearly remember Obama and his staff being criticized for a number of outrageously stupid things like this, and Obama supporters like me pointing out how ridiculous those criticisms were.

They don’t become less ridiculous just because they’re now lodged against someone we don’t like.

Don’t Listen to Republicans telling you the Democrats do the Same Thing

Republican Senators announced today that they would refuse to even consider anyone Obama nominates for the Supreme Court, despite the fact that the President has almost an entire year left in his term. (Apparently, in their minds, Obama only gets 3/5ths of a term).

This is completely unprecedented.w936uez3tdwl6tlcz20y (1)

But hey, don’t let facts stand in your way, Republicans. You never have before.

I’ve certainly seen a lot of it recently.

First, they claimed that Senator Chuck Schumer had given a speech where he said that the Senate should not approve of a Bush nominee in his final year. Of course, all you have to do is read the transcript of that speech to see that the comment was followed by “except in extraordinary circumstances” — and then he explained that the Senate should not approve someone so far out of the mainstream as to be unacceptable.

In other words, the Senate should do its job, have hearings, but should exercise its Constitutional duty to deny a candidate they disagree with.

This is not the same thing as refusing to consider ANY candidate, no matter how qualified.

Then they pointed out how Obama had objected to Justice Alito when he was a Senator, and had threatened a filibuster over it. Yet the Senate still had hearings about the candidate and ultimately did approve him.

This is not the same thing as refusing to consider ANY candidate, no matter how qualified.

Then they found a quote from Joe Biden which basically said that the Senate should not be a rubber-stamp and should refuse to accept any candidate they don’t think would be a good choice.

This is not the same thing as refusing to consider ANY candidate, no matter how qualified.

And it goes on. The right wing blogs post articles about how the Democrats have stood up to Supreme Court nominees in the past, and then they feebly try to fool their gullible readers into thinking this is the same thing as refusing to even hold hearings on any candidate.

It’s sad that some of my more intelligent conservative friends fall for this bullshit, but that’s what it is. There is no way to compare the Senate’s legitimate function to “advise and consent” and even to reject nominees they don’t want with the current Republican policy of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying “Lalalalala I can’t hear you” concerning any candidate.

 

 

 

Patriotism, Hypocrisy, and Empty Phrases

by guest blogger Alma Alexander

So I just read one too many stories about the histrionic American pseudo-evangelistic jingoism that passes for patriotism these days. In this instance, a story about a girl who attested her (constitutional) right to participate or not in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The story I read left a lot of the details out. It said the girl had been “mistreated” for “failing to stand”, or declining to stand, for the pledge of allegiance and apparently it was this mistreatment that led her to seek the attention of the school nurse.

Who mistreated her? Why? And how did this result in her needing medical attention?

The nurse then demanded to know why the victim of this mistreatment hadn’t stood for the pledge. The little girl said that she had a right not to participate, at which point the nurse flew into a high dudgeon… and refused to treat whatever the damage was that it had been considered necessary to send the child to her for in the first
place.

It gets worse. This:

“‘The student reports that she left the nurse’s office in tears and went to the administrative offices to call her mother … A secretary then led the student to an office, but at that time the same nurse appeared again, saying, ‘She isn’t calling a parent until I have a long conversation with her!'”

I beg your pardon? Even a felon arrested for murder is entitled to a phone call. An eighth-grader was refused – even potentially refused – the right to call her own mother before the nurse had a ‘long conversation’ with her?

Really?

Really?

American hypocrisy about patriotism and what it really means is becoming egregious. In America, patriotism is coming to mean frothing at the mouth about American exceptionalism at every turn, denouncing anyone who isn’t ‘measuring up’ to the zealots’ standards, flying flags the size of a king-sized bed above car dealerships which proudly peddle Toyotas or Subarus.

The things that are going on inside the country right now – the things that a true patriot would be appalled by – the senseless gun deaths, the militarization of our police, the endless useless foreign wars begun by lies and perpetuated by some an effort to make everyone else out there toe some kind of utopian American line (‘we bring democracy to the world’ is the excuse. But there are frequently underlying reasons which are never addressed in the open.

Here’s the thing, America. You didn’t invent democracy. The very word comes from ancient Greece which was a country before you were a gleam in your Founding Fathers’ eyes. It is not your job to impose a given political system on the rest of the world, no matter how much you yourself are enamored of it.  And here’s another thing – take a look in your own back yard – (America hasn’t had a true democracy in years) – all that – all that a true patriot would be truly concerned about – all that doesn’t matter, truly, so long as you can wrap yourself in the flag and pretend you’re better than everyone else.

Germany had a national anthem which contained the words “Deutschland Uber Alles” – and when it acted on that phrase, the world went to war about it. When America imposes its will on other nations – at the business end of a gun if everything else fails – it is operating under a very similar principle.

It’s like this.

If you think it’s okay for a nurse to refuse to treat a child because she didn’t think that child measured up to her ridiculous sense of ‘patriotism”, it’s also okay for someone in the middle east to start screaming about holy war if somebody says a cross word about something they believe in. If one is okay, so is the other.

What is going on in America today is just blatantly hypocritical, this adulation of “USA! USA!” as though no other nation ever had a flag, or a love of country. Let me tell you something – Russians call their country Mother Russia, they love it fiercely, and yet somehow they manage to do so without a Russian flag above every used car dealer.

Patriotism isn’t empty phrases, or wrapping yourself in that flag. Patriotism is treating your country’s children when they need medical attention and you are the medical professional in charge. If you were a Christian nurse with strong religious and patriotic dogmas in place and your country was at war – would you really be justified in refusing treatment to a wounded child who happened to be Jewish or Buddhist or (god forbid) Muslim? What would Christ say about that, even if you take it upon yourself to unilaterally repudiate the Geneva Convention?

America diminishes itself – both in its own purview and in the eyes of the world – with every action like this nurse has taken. Patriotism isn’t the same as religious zeal and evangelical Christianist conservative cant. Patriotism isn’t histrionically screaming about the inviolate Second Amendment every time grieving mothers stand at the gravesides of children mowed down by bullets in the streets, in shopping malls, in cinemas, in schools. Patriotism isn’t building a wall between the USA and Mexico. Patriotism isn’t shutting down the Government of your country every time you don’t get your way in Congress.

Patriotism is much harder than this. Patriotism means doing hard things, it means knowing and loving your country and its history, yes, but not to the point of making that history an obstacle to its future – or, worse, retelling that past so that it is more palatable to you. History is what happened, and no amount of whitewashing so that you feel better about it is going to change a word of it.

Yes, the American South kept slaves. No, those human beings in chains were not “better off” in that era, nor were they happy about those chains, nor about the ability of those in charge of them to use them like cattle. But it happened. The repercussions of that are dragging their muddy tails through America’s today and its tomorrow, but we can’t clean up after it until we accept that we are seeing it there and stop pretending that the monster isn’t even in the room with us.

Patriotism is facing up to our mistakes, and trying to move forward from them in a direction that doesn’t leave everyone mired in that mud forever. But this is not easy. It’s much harder than screaming at little girls at how unpatriotic they are, or than getting into a froth about a “War on Christmas” and on white America, or than simply showing up to wave a tiny paper flag in a crowd while some politician-du-jour spouts platitudes that waft like pretty soap bubbles above your head. Patriotism involves a passionate love of your country, and your people.

This does not then translate into calling that love, as it manifests in other people and other nations, by other and more offensive names, or proclaiming that Americans who love their country are “patriots” while everyone else who has the gall to say they love their own country is a “dangerous nationalist” or a “terrorist” and therefore a fair target. How dare those ignorant savages not love America above their own land?

Patriotism is, at its best, a noble thing. But it’s being perverted into something shadowed and furtive; it’s being weaponised (if you aren’t with us you’re against us); it’s being poisoned by the fake evangelists for whom it’s just easier to spout the cliches than it is to act upon a true patriotic impulse.

If you want to know, one of those would have entailed that nurse’s keeping her mouth shut in the face of events during that fracas in a middle school somewhere in middle America. Her patriotic duty was to educate and to ‘doctor’ her nation’s children. Not to indoctrinate them.

Alma Alexander is an American novelist and short story writer

If we’re attacked while a Republican is in office, it’s not his fault

Obama and Hillary are so responsible for the attack on Benghazi wherein four people died. Pay no attention to the fact that Republicans gutted the budget for security at the embassy — the people at the top are responsible!

graph-attacks-on-US-diplomatic-targets

Just for comparison

Unless they’re Republicans, of course. When 3000 people died on 9/11 under Bush’s watch (even though he had been warned by both outgoing President Clinton and his own internal memos that this was bin Laden’s plan), clearly he can not be held responsible for such a thing.

At least Trump, for all his many faults, understands this basic concept. He’s caused another rift in the Republican campaign by pointing this out, and George W. Bush’s brother Jeb!* isn’t going to take this lying down!

But geez, don’t you dare ask him why then Obama and Hillary are responsible for the Benghazi attack, because then he’ll stare at the camera for a very long period, like a deer in the headlights, before rambling on for a few minutes about how security is important.

Seriously, watch this and look at his body language, because he’s being forced to say something that he knows in his soul isn’t true — that it is completely hypocritical to absolve blame for one incident while foisting blame in the other.

Squirm, baby, squirm.

*I believe he has added the ! to his name in much of the same way Prince changed his name into a symbol. 

 

Quit the damned job already, bigot

I had a nicer headline originally but you know, this better expresses my feelings.

The United States Supreme Court yesterday denied the Kentucky clerk’s appeal wherein she claimed that she should not be forced to perform her job because of her religious beliefs.

As a Christian, she has vowed to obey the Bible, which says gay couples should not get married. (It actually doesn’t say that at all, but that has never stopped True Believers). She is still refusing to do it. appealsAs a clerk, she is supposed to certify marriages and not discriminate, but she is claiming that God’s Law supercedes American law. (It actually doesn’t, but that has never stopped True Believers.)

All the standard hypocritical nonsense is there — for instance, she’s been married herself four times (which actually is prohibited very clearly in the Bible).

Bigotry in the name of religion is still bigotry. If her religious order was against, say, interracial marriage, she would not have the right to deny marriage licenses to interracial couples either. I assume her religion also says that marriages should be between people in her own religion, yet this woman grants marriage licenses to people from every religion and no religion all the time.

No, this is just plain bigotry.

I blame the Hobby Lobby case for some of this, wherein the Supreme Court decided that businesses can have religion (WTF?) and thus discriminate on the basis of it. The Supreme Court views this case differently for one major reason: This is not a business.  Seriously. Businesses always win in the Supreme Court these days.

But back to this woman: I’m sure she has firmly held beliefs. But if those beliefs prevent her from performing her job, then she should resign. Issuing marriage licenses is part of her job requirements.

Can you imagine if you refused to perform part of your job because your religion said you couldn’t do it?  How long do you think you’d keep your job?